The Miami Heat are coming off a loss for the first time in quite a long time and how they respond after their road trip ended with their mammoth win streak snapped will be the main thing to watch tonight when they host the Orlando Magic.
Rising from the bottom of the standings to on the cusp of being a playoff team, the Heat certainly don’t want to enter the upcoming All-Star break on a losing streak instead with a tough road game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday looming. However, considering how this season was shaping up it’s a miracle we’re even talking about the playoffs at all.
Dion Waiters is questionable for tonight with a sprained left ankle but is listed as a starter (for now). Josh Richardson remains out with a left foot sprain, though his health was much improved last week at practice as he was able to lift off and dunk after shaking off the rust with an extended midrange shooting drill. Hopefully the Heat can welcome him back after the All-Star break as they could certainly use another playmaker and ball handler off the bench — especially when Goran Dragic needs a breather from time to time. Miami’s players have now missed a combined 227 games due to injury or illness, still tops in the NBA this season.
For the Magic, Aaron Gordon is questionable with a bone bruise in his right foot. Jodie Meeks (right thumb repair) is out, as is C.J. Wilcox with left Achilles tendinitis.
Miami’s long range shooting that had served them so well during the streak was largely absent in their loss against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. However, Dragic went 2-4 from beyond the arc to improve his 3-point shooting accuracy to 63.3% (19-30) in his last seven games. The team has converted on a total of 507 3-point field goals this season, currently accounting for 27.4% of their total points — which would be a franchise record for a whole season.
Thanks to the win streak, their third-longest ever, Orlando and Miami have flipped positions at the bottom of the Southeast Division and they have split the season series so far. The Heat won 108-96 in Orlando on Oct. 26 and the Magic won in double overtime 136-130 at the AA Arena on Dec. 20. The Heat have won 16 of the last 19 games and are 62-47 all-time (34-20 at home) against their in-state rival.
James Johnson has scored 20 or more points off the bench for three consecutive games, tying a Heat season record for a reserve. His scoring has picked up, as he had four such games earlier in the season -- which totaled is already good for fourth all-time with the Heat, trailing only Michael Beasley (10 games in ‘08-’09), Kevin Edwards (10 games in ‘90-’91) and Hassan Whiteside (9 games last season).
Come back tonight before tipoff for our GameThread with projected starters, updated game info and more!
Tipoff: 7:30 pm
TV: FOX Sports Sun (Eric Reid, Tony Fiorentino, Jason Jackson)
Radio: The Ticket 790AM & The HEAT Radio Network (Mike Inglis, John Crotty)
Spanish Radio: WAQI 710AM (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)